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Trey Mancini’s unforgettable Orioles tenure ended too quickly

Trey Mancini’s unforgettable Orioles tenure ended too quickly

By Jake Mintz

FOX Sports activities MLB Author

On Sept. 17, 2016, Trey Mancini was sweating his ass off underneath the Florida solar. 

The yet-to-debut, No. 6 Orioles prospect had already completed his minor league season and was staying recent on the crew’s Spring Coaching complicated simply in case the O’s wanted reinforcements down the stretch as they battled for a Wild Card spot. In Mancini’s thoughts, it was largely eyewash. He’d get his large league call-up sooner or later in 2017.

However then Steve Pearce, the Orioles’ right-handed bench bat, harm his elbow and landed on the 60-day IL, opening the door for Mancini. A couple of days later the 24-year-old made his large league debut at Camden Yards towards the Red Sox, launching a homer within the fifth inning for his first profession hit.

Mancini caught absolute hearth down the stretch for the O’s, hitting three homers and a double in simply 15 plate appearances. However in that fateful AL Wild Card loss to the Blue Jays, Mancini by no means noticed the sector.

“I do not suppose at the moment, I actually realized what all of it meant.” Mancini informed FOX Sports activities again in Could. “It was cool to me, yeah, however trying again I am actually fortunate to have gotten to expertise that. Quite a lot of guys go their complete careers with out experiencing a playoff sport.”

It could be the closest he ever received to a postseason ball area as an Oriole.

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On Monday afternoon, 5 years and ten months after he first donned the cartoon hen, Mancini was dealt to the Houston Astros as a part of a three-way commerce with the Tampa Bay Rays.

In his 5 plus seasons with the membership, Mancini grew to become a fan favourite, at instances the one watchable lifeforce on abysmal, zipless Orioles groups. The proverbial “hold-your-hand-through-the-darkness” participant, somebody who by no means grumbled, by no means pouted and who oozed kindness and compassion wherever he went.

His well-documented battle with colon most cancers in 2020 solely additional deepened his connection to town and fanbase, as Trey acquired therapy down the highway at Johns Hopkins Medical Heart. As his story grew to become nationwide information, Mancini started spreading consciousness for others together with his illness, even whereas present process his personal chemotherapy in Baltimore throughout the 2020 season. Mancini returned on Opening Day of 2021 to a standing ovation.

“I like this metropolis, I like these followers.” Mancini shared. “It has been type of a wierd journey, going via this complete rebuild, however I’ve all the time liked my time right here. It is a actually particular place it doesn’t matter what occurs.”

What occurred was a commerce, a commerce that months in the past felt like a foregone conclusion. Mancini was an impending free agent, the Orioles a membership destined for one more fifth place end. His departure appeared inevitable. However then the funniest factor occurred: Baltimore began profitable. 

In July, the membership ripped off 10 straight wins, catapulting themselves into the hunt for the third AL Wild Card spot. Even after Mancini received a curtain name in his last residence sport earlier than the commerce deadline, after one of the distinctive and unforgettable homers in franchise historical past, it nonetheless felt just like the crew was too near competition for GM Mike Elias to really pull the set off. The vibes have been too good and Mancini too elementary to these vibes.

Baltimore’s shock ascension from AL East punchline to pesky playoff contender had them at 51-51, simply three video games out of the third Wild Card spot heading into play on Monday night time. They’ve developed right into a close-knit unit that is helped to reinvigorate a dormant franchise. Attendance at Camden Yards is up, the vitality is just too. That Orioles magic, that … feeling, felt prefer it’d lastly returned.

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However dealing away Mancini is one hell of a vibe swap. It is a miscalculation: a misguided prioritization of worth over values. The 2022 Orioles have been one hell of a celebration, and by buying and selling Mancini, Mike Elias is out of the blue the man tripping over and breaking the speaker, so the music cuts off.

“It is gonna be robust with out him,” Orioles first baseman Ryan Mountcastle mentioned to’s Zachary Silver. “And I do know loads of us are fairly upset.”

Since turning into the crew’s head baseball operations particular person forward of the 2019 season, O’s GM Mike Elias has been ruthlessly environment friendly, prepared to deal away veterans when given a possibility to construct for the longer term. It is a cold-hearted strategy to crew constructing that is lastly begun to repay within the win column.

Objectively, it is a strong haul — Seth Johnson was Tampa’s No. 6 prospect per FanGraphs, Chayce McDermott was Houston’s No. 10 — for 2 months of a .751 OPS first baseman about to hit free company, however this can be a commerce with ramifications far past the spreadsheet. 

Each metropolis, each fanbase has shaped relationships with gamers. At instances these hyperlinks can really feel considerably pressured., They will really feel like a product of probability, considerably compulsory or transactional. However for no matter motive, Trey’s relationship with Baltimore all the time felt pure and genuine. 

When requested again in Could about what he’ll keep in mind most from his time in Baltimore, Mancini zeroed in on the 2019 All-Star break. He’d had a reasonably brutal first half of the season and was scuffling to seek out his footing because the face of the rebuilding Orioles.

However as an alternative of flying residence to Florida for the break, Mancini stayed behind in Baltimore with a view to spend a while with a younger O’s fan named Mo Gaba who’d been recognized with a number of extreme sorts of most cancers. 

“We would met up as soon as earlier than,” Mancini remembered. “However I wished to hang around with him with none cameras, so I took him and his mother to Dave & Busters. We had a good time. That second simply gave me a ton of perspective and helped flip my psychological state and my season round.”

The 2 developed an especially shut bond earlier than Gaba tragically handed away on July 28, 2020, particularly after Mancini acquired his personal analysis in March of that 12 months. Trey would usually cease by the Gaba family simply to spend a while with Mo in between chemo remedies.

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The crew now holds an annual Mo Gaba Day at Camden Yards on July 28, a day on which Mancini has homered every of the final two seasons, together with his unbelievable sun-aided inside-the-parker final week. That Mo Gaba Day will dwell on indefinitely, is only a small, however vital a part of Mancini’s Baltimore legacy.

*** ****

Professional sports activities within the trendy age is nearly totally about profitable and dropping. Who’s profitable? Who’s dropping? Who’s buying and selling for whom with a view to do extra profitable and fewer dropping? And many others, and many others, and many others.

However typically it is a few bit greater than that. Followers love profitable as a result of essentially, they’re searching for one thing or somebody(s) to latch onto; something they’ll emotionally latch onto with a view to distract them from the doldrums of their every day lives. 

In Baltimore, Trey Mancini did not do an entire lot of profitable — solely 37% or so of his video games to be actual — however he did succeed within the way more vital activity: connecting. Groups rise and fall, seasons come and go, however gamers and their actions stand the take a look at of time. That actuality is probably what Mike Elias is lacking. It isn’t all the time concerning the wins and losses, whether or not in 2022 or 2026 or 2032, typically it is about having a motive to present a crap, it is about having the ability to care.

Baltimore cared about Trey Mancini as a result of Trey Mancini cared about Baltimore.

“This metropolis …” Mancini mentioned “This metropolis saved my life.”

Jake Mintz is the louder half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball author for FOX Sports activities. He’s an Orioles fan dwelling in New York Metropolis, and thus, he leads a lonely existence most Octobers. If he’s not watching baseball, he’s nearly definitely using his bike. You possibly can comply with him on Twitter @Jake_Mintz.

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